Author of the Month

Name: Peter Robinson

First Novel: Gallows View

Most Recent Book: Piece of my Heart

'…the best crime novel I have read this year.'

It is 1969 and at a music festival in Yorkshire, a young fan of local band ‘Mad Hatters’ is stabbed to death. Straight-laced detective, Stanley Chadwick, investigates the murder, feeling increasingly out of touch with sixties popular culture. Thirty-five years later Detective Inspector Alan Banks is investigating the murder of rock journalist Nicholas Barber who was writing an article on the ‘Mad Hatters’. Banks is convinced that the murder has its origins in the events of the late 1960s but has to convince his new superintendent he is not wasting time investigating the past.

I really look forward to every new Peter Robinson and this latest book does not disappoint. The novel shifts between 1960 and the present day, and, unlike many plots which use this device, both narratives are equally fascinating. Peter Robinson seems at home in the world of sixties popular music and interweaves the story of the fictional band with references to characters such as Mark Knopfler, The Who and other more obscure local bands.

The character of Alan Banks goes from strength to strength and the addition of a new (female) superintendent adds enough tension to suggest her prominence in future books. Piece of my Heart is by far the best crime novel I have read this year.

Reviewed by: S.W.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) How would you describe your books?
Books about a police detective's job and life.
2) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
The Long Goodbye.
3) Would you describe yourself as a Crime fan and if so, which authors do
Yes. I admire Chandler, Simenon and Ruth Rendell probably most of all, each for different reasons: Chandler mostly because of his style, Simenon for his atmosphere and characters, and Rendell for her ability to portray the psychopathic mind at work.
4) Who, in your eyes, is pushing the boundaries of crime fiction today - and
Nobody, because there are no, or very few, boundaries left now.
5) Without giving away the plot, which book included your favourite plot
I'm not a great fan of plot twists, and tend not to remember them very well, but The Murder of Roger Ackroyd certainly surprised me when I first read it.
6) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
The Maltese Falcon.
7) DI Banks has been interested in music throughout the series of books.
I think it's always been at the back of my mind. It was just a matter of finding a way to write about it, and getting the necessary distance.
8) Did you have a specific band in mind when you created the
Not really, though they probably tended more towards softer Pink Floyd and even some of the emerging "prog rock" bands with that "psychedelic pastoral" sound, rather than harder-edged blues bands of the period, like Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin.
9) What plans do you have for DI Banks' love life?
I don't plan anything in my books, so a lot depends on my mood on any given day. I do think, though, that it's probably time Banks had a bit of fun! Whether he will or not is another matter. It's a question readers often ask, and many of them also offer their own solutions, ranging from Annie and Jenny, of course, to that violinist he met in, what was that one called?
10) Where do you see Crime fiction going next?
That's a tough one. The bar has been raised so much over the past few years, not so much in terms of ingenious plotting as in sheer writing ability and range, that it could go almost anywhere. We're probably going to continue to see a lot more forensic detail-which is pretty tough on those of us who studied the arts because we weren't very good at sciences-and I think we'll see a lot more books being translated into English following the success of authors such as Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum and Fred Vargas. I'd like to see a resurgence of espionage fiction, too, in the wake of writers such as Henry Porter.